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Myfanwy 2

January 2018

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Myfanwy 2

The Immortality of the Deathless - Chapter Seventeen

The Immortality of the Deathless - Chapter Seventeen
Author: Milady Dragon
Rating: PG-13, for language and violence
Summary: When Master Archivist Ianto Jones of Torchwood Castle discovers the presence of a powerful magical Artifact, Baroness Gwen Williams hires Captain Jack Harkness and his band of mercenaries to retrieve it.
Pairing(s): Jack Harkness/Ianto Jones; Gwen Williams/Rhys WIlliams
Warning: Fantasy violence; temporary character death
Spoilers: None really; mostly for Doctor Who S1 episodes "Bad Wolf" and "Parting of the Ways", and Torchwood S1 "Everything Changes" and S2 "Fragments".  Although the stories have been warped to fit into a fantasy setting. 
Author's Note:  This is Torchwood in a fantasy setting.  Everything that could be considered alien in the normal universe is magical here. 
Disclaimer: I don't own Torchwood, if I did I'd have treated it better. It - and Doctor Who - are owned by the BBC, and created by Russell T. Davies.


Chapter Seventeen


It took John Hart approximately three minutes to decide what he wanted to do.

He made his way quickly back to the inn he'd been staying in; not one of the most reputable places in Haven, but the barmaids certainly made up for that. Within another ten minutes, he was on his horse and riding out of town.

He couldn't help but grin at his plan. That whole magical Artifact business…well, it made perfect sense that Torchwood would be hunting for such tat. Honestly, he just didn't get it, didn't know what the big deal was. It wasn't like anyone could actually use the stuff, was it? All it would do was gather dust somewhere in the castle…

That train of thought led him back to what Adam had said about that Jones guy being a mage. John snorted in disbelief. As far as he knew, there weren't any such things as mages anymore, just like there weren't any dragons or unicorns hanging about any longer. Things died, and they didn't come back. So, as far as he was concerned Adam had been blowing smoking up his proverbial skirt.

Not that John hadn't worn a skirt before. He just didn't know how women did it, with all the layers and still the wind got up to your private parts…but it sure was fun taking those layers off, the anticipation enough to make a man orgasm before the last petticoat dropped…

Okay, that was enough of that. Anymore and the ride would become distinctly uncomfortable.

The house he was looking for was a few miles outside of Haven; a large, country place that was just old enough to actually have a moat around it. The moat had long since dried up, but the stone-lined trench still made an impressive barrier when the drawbridge was up.

It wasn't, and John rode across the thick wooden bridge, the horse's hooves making loud clomping noises that echoed all the way into the country house's courtyard. He was greeted by a liveried servant, who took the reins and led the horse away.

John looked up at the house. It was just as old as the moat, at least three centuries. Two above-ground levels, perhaps more underground. The reputation of this place was well-known, and it made the perfect destination for John's information.

Now he just had to get in to see the owner. Which would be easier said than done.

He headed into the country house, the foyer well shaded after the low sunlight from outside. Another servant awaited him, managing to look down his nose at John even though he was several inches shorter than the mercenary. "May I help you?"

John smirked. "Maybe later, handsome. But right now I need to see your boss. "

"Lord Henry sees no one," the man answered snootily.

"Yeah, well…he'll wanna see me. Tell him Captain John Hart is here, and that I have information for him."

"As I said, Lord Henry sees no one."

"Look, I'm well aware the guy is practically a hermit, but if he doesn't hear what I have to say, he'll regret it. This is hot, I'm telling you. So go let his Lordship know I'm here, and it's in his best interest to hear what I have to say."

The servant gave John the once over, and it wasn't in a good way. Then the man withdrew, leaving the mercenary to cool his heels. The foyer was decorated tastefully, but it was apparent that no one actually spent any time there. It was just a bit too pristine, and it made him feel a bit uncomfortable.

The floor and paneling was of a dark wood, the tables matching. Various pieces of artwork decorated those walls, and even John could tell they were worth a lot of money. Stairs went up to the second level, and a window let light in at the top of those stairs. A rich red carpet runner lined the steps.

It took a while, but eventually the servant returned just as John was becoming bored out of his skull. "Lord Henry will see you."

"I thought he might." John winked. "Lead the way."

The man did so; up the stairs and then left at the landing. The entire house looked completely unlived in, which was vaguely disturbing. John actually suppressed a shiver.

The servant stopped at a closed door. "Lord Henry is ill. If you tire him or upset him, you will be ejected from the premises immediately."

"Yeah…sure." John shrugged, not really caring. He reached around the man, to open the door.

The bedroom was well-appointed, and the only room that John had seen so far that looked as if someone lived in it. It was cluttered with years' worth of trinkets, and books overstuffed the shelves. The furniture was the same dark wood as the rest of the house, although a little less well maintained.

Lord Henry Parker took up the middle of the large bed, pillows stacked behind his head so he could sit. He looked pale and drawn, the blankets pulled up to his chest, arms resting on top of the blue duvet. He resembled someone's Granddad, looking innocuous and small in his dark pajamas.

John knew though, he was anything but. Behind Lord Henry's friendly exterior there was a strong-willed man who'd built himself up in the world, until he owned half of Haven and had made for himself a trading empire that extended into several of the surrounding kingdoms.

There were also the rumors about this illness Lord Henry had, and that it was actually fatal. That the man would do anything in order to find a way to keep on living, that he was afraid to die. John didn't get it, of course. He certainly wasn't frightened, but then he was pretty sure he'd end up in one of the Hells anyway, and in a way that prospect excited him.

"So," Lord Henry said, "I understand you have some…information, for me." Under the man's smile, there was a steeliness that made John just a little bit nervous.

"Yeah," he answered. "For the right price."

That got him a calculating look. "Perhaps you should let me determine what your news is worth?"

John smirked. "I'll give you a clue: Baroness Gwen's out looking for some new Artifacts."

"And that interests me how?" Lord Henry tried to make it sound like he didn't care, but there was a glint in his eye that gave him away.

"What if I was to tell you they might help with your…condition?"

Lord Henry paused. "Tell me more…"

*****

During the next week, things seemed to settle down a bit between the various members of Captain Jack's mercenary band.

Ianto found himself more at home, as it were, among the disparate personalities he was surrounded by. He was beginning to believe he might actually begin to fit in, despite all his doubts to the contrary. He could handle Owen's near-constant demands for coffee; Suzie's pummeling him in the name of "sword practice"; and Jack's verbal harassment – which was fine, Ianto didn't honestly mind it, and it was a change from the sullen, quiet Jack who'd started the mission. Toshiko pretty much kept up her ends of conversations with him as they traveled, and he thoroughly enjoyed talking to her.

He was beginning to believe this trip wouldn't be as bad as he'd thought it would.

Of course, the moment that crossed Ianto's mind, he wondered if he hadn't jinxed them in some way.

Then he dismissed it. His Gran had often warned him about borrowing trouble, and shrugged it off to him being a bit more paranoid than usual.

And he had to admit, the sword training was a good idea. It had taken him a bit by surprise when Jack had suggested it – he'd pretty given up trying not to call the captain Jack – and Suzie had actually stopped moaning about his being untrainable on the second day. It had certainly helped that Ianto had fairly decent upper body strength, from lifting heavy objects in the Archives, although his wrists got pretty sore, pretty quickly. Ianto knew he'd never be proficient with a sword, but at least with some work he'd be able to defend himself.

But he was proving much better at using a bow.

They'd all discovered that fact when Toshiko, deciding that using a sword was all well and good, but sometimes a person had to defend themselves over long distances. And so, the Elven woman had taken it upon herself to show Ianto how to use her bow.

Ianto thought everyone had been surprised at how quickly he'd picked up on it. After only a few shots, he was hitting the target every time. It might not be bulls' eyes, but it was usually pretty close. Of course, he'd also learned just how painful it was to have the string snap against his wrist. He thought Jack's expression had been priceless at the range of curses Ianto knew.

The archivist rubbed the bracer that now decorated his left wrist. It had been a gift from Jack, just after the bowstring incident. Ianto could still feel Jack's fingers on his wrist as he'd checked the injury, then had removed the leather bracer and had buckled it around Ianto's own arm.

Ianto wondered if Jack knew the bracer had been exposed to magic.

He could feel it, tingling against his skin. He'd tried to determine just what sort of magic it was, but for some reason his ability wasn't pinpointing it. He'd had yet to sense Jack's own personal magic again; it had been just that one time, after the attack. It was like an itch he couldn't scratch, in a way…knowing that there was something beyond the surface of the handsome, flirtatious mercenary, something that went beyond the mundane. Something that he had no way of identifying, because his own power wasn't cooperating.

He'd even tested it on the bow. Once he'd shown he could use one, Jack had also given him the bow that had been tied to the captain's saddle, saying he didn't really use it all that much. Ianto had quickly realized that the bow had been bespelled as well, only this time he'd been able to figure out the two enchantments on it fairly fast; a basic Protection spell, coupled with Preservation magic. So that wasn't the issue. Ianto had to conclude that it was the type of magic that was stymieing his ability. Somehow, the kind of power that Jack seemed to access was different from what Ianto himself was familiar with. It also meant that he wouldn't be able to figure it out on his own.

Which meant he'd have to talk to Jack…eventually.

Ianto really wanted to trust him. In fact, he could honestly say that he did, in fact, trust the mercenary. He'd said as much to the Baroness. He was just so used to keeping his own secrets that it was like breaking the habits of a lifetime.

And he wasn't about to bring up anything in front of the others. Ianto could stretch his confidences to include Jack – and perhaps Toshiko – but he simply didn't know Owen and Suzie well enough, and he wasn't at all sure he trusted them as much as he did Jack. So any sort of conversation would be in private…if there was a chance of privacy, while on the road.

On the seventh night out of Haven, Ianto got his chance…if he was willing to take it.

"Hold up!" Jack called, during the torture sessions that passed as weapons training.

The woman stopped her weapon, and Ianto pulled his own sword back, resting the point of the blade on the ground. He'd been touched that the captain had actually purchased it for him, and Jack hadn't even taken any money in repayment.

"You can't get any power in your thrusts if you don't have the right stance," the mercenary went on, getting up from where he'd been sitting on the grass, watching the pair of them spar. "Ianto, relax your shoulders a bit. You're way too tense and you'll break a bone if someone comes at you at with full strength."

It gave Ianto a small thrill to hear Jack calling him by his given name; he couldn't very well withhold permission from him, if everyone else was being familiar.

There was an even bigger thrill when Jack moved behind him, putting his hands on Ianto's shoulders and kneading gently. "You can't be all tensed up and expect to win in a fight. Loosen up a bit."

It was the first time Jack had actually touched him without it being something that could be construed as accidental. Ianto resisted the urge to hum with the pleasantness of it. "I'm trying," he answered, doing his best to ignore the feeling. "But isn't it in the very nature of being in an actual sword fight that makes it a tense situation?"

Jack chuckled. "There's tense…and then there's tense. It's perfectly acceptable to be on edge during a fight; in fact, it's preferable. But also the nature of sword fighting means you need to have a certain fluidity and instinct when you move, and you can't have either if you're all stiff. Now…I want you to get into guard stance, and try to loosen your arms and shoulders a bit."

Ianto did as he was asked, planting his feet and lifting the long sword into the proper position. He tried to tell his muscles to unclench, and it seemed to work…especially with Jack giving him a bit of an impromptu massage. It was really obscene what that man's hands were doing to him, and it made Ianto realize that this was one of the very few times Jack had actually touched him since the inn at Haven.

"That's it," the captain said encouragingly. He removed his hands, and Ianto felt somewhat bereft at the loss of contact. "Now, Suzie's going to come at you. Just keep loose and remember what she's shown you."

Jack stepped back, and Suzie went into her attack. Ianto parried, and immediately felt the difference; the shock to his wrists and arms was somewhat less than before, and his movements didn't feel nearly as stiff.

He managed to block several of her moves, and that earned him applause not just from Jack, but from Toshiko as well. It also earned him a "Well done," from Suzie. Owen made some sort of snide comment about coffee boys and pointy objects, then lounged back on his bedroll.

Ianto and Suzie sparred for a while longer, until Jack called a halt for dinner. Toshiko had managed to trap three rather large rabbits, which meant a night where they didn't have to dig into their supplies to eat. Ianto was glad; he was getting a bit tired of the trail bread they'd picked up in Haven, it was hard enough it made his teeth hurt to chew it.

The conversation around the fire was pleasant, although Ianto was more than willing to listen instead of participating. Some of Jack's stories were so outrageous the archivist had a hard time believing them, yet at the same time the man was so larger than life that it made a strange sort of sense that he had larger than life adventures. He simply enjoyed the camaraderie of the mercenary band, it almost made him feel like he belonged somewhere other than the Archives at Torchwood Castle.

Almost.

A couple of times he caught Jack watching him, his sharp blue eyes regarding him from across the fire. The flames danced in those eyes, causing golden flecks to form in their depths. The second time Ianto caught that stare, he looked back, holding that gaze…

And that was when he realized he was a bit more than just attracted to Captain Jack Harkness. Ianto wondered just when that had happened, because he would never have even considered it possible until that moment.

Ianto couldn't work out whether this meant he was completely screwed or not.

He stood up quietly, not wanting to interrupt the conversation between the mercenaries. He suddenly felt the need to be alone, to work out exactly what was going on in his head. He was certainly well aware of the captain's reputation, and Ianto had often found himself on the receiving end of Jack's flirting. He needed to work his mind around this, because he was fairly certain that what he was feeling was pretty one-sided. Plus the last thing he wanted to do was to endanger their mission by letting his feelings get out of control.

The archivist headed into the trees, needing privacy. The breeze made the leaves around him rustle, and it sounded almost comforting. The near-silence let his thoughts wander, his mind automatically telling him that he was being really stupid, that it was only natural for him to feel this way because of Jack paying attention to him. Rationally, he knew that wasn't exactly accurate; others had done the same, and he hadn't been attracted to them. No, it was Jack; just Jack, and no one else.

But there was also the magic to consider. The magic he'd seen in the captain, and Ianto couldn't help but wonder if that didn't have something to do with how he was feeling. Even as a child he'd been fascinated by magic, even before he'd known about his own Catalyst ability. Could what he was experiencing be because he somehow recognized a kindred spirit? Someone who might understand what Ianto was, and accept it?

He leaned against the trunk of a tree, sighing. Ianto couldn't read anything into what was going on, simply because he couldn't get past the idea that it wasn't something his personal magic was influencing. Damn, this was just too confusing.

"You okay?"

Ianto jumped at the question. He turned to see Jack standing there, his arms crossing his chest and his eyes shadowed. He'd removed most of his armor when they'd stopped for the night, and was wearing a simple blue shirt and trousers. His great sword was buckled at his waist.

"Yeah," the archivist answered, although it took a couple of tries to get that single word out. "Just…needed some private time."

"That's understandable." The mercenary took a step closer. "Although it's not exactly safe to be out here on your own. We're well into Weevil country, and there's a chance one could come up on you before you even knew it."

Ianto had heard – and read – stories about the Weevils, but hadn't realized they were close enough to be a danger. "I didn't know that."

"Now you do." Jack took another step forward. "We might want to get back to camp. We have quite a ways to go before we get to the next town, and I'd really like to get an early start in the morning."

"Jack…" Ianto's voice faded out on the name, wanting to take the chance, to tell Jack about his magic and what he could do. He just felt this was the time to do it, when they were alone.

"Ianto?"

Another step closer and Jack was within touching range. A part of Ianto thought this was too close, that he wouldn't be able to gather his thoughts together enough, but he had to try. He still couldn't figure out why the man was wreaking such havoc on him.

"Look, I need to be…honest with you about something." Ianto took a deep breath, trying to calm his suddenly racing pulse. His mouth went dry with nerves.

"What?" One of Jack's eyebrows went up in curiosity.

Ianto opened his mouth to answer, but Jack suddenly jerked forward, falling against the archivist and almost knocking him flat to the ground. On instinct Ianto grabbed him tightly, Jack's body completely limp in his arms.

It took five full seconds to register the crossbow bolt protruding from the captain's neck.

He gasped in shock, almost letting go of the captain's weight, yet he managed somehow to get them both down, Jack's body cradled against Ianto's chest. The archivist tried to check for a pulse, but knew it wouldn't do any good.

Jack was dead.

He barely had time to register that fact, when a sharp pain blazed through his head, and the night went darker than it had been before.


Chapter Eighteen...

Comments

me thinks Ianto is in for a bit of a shock!
Haha! A bit, yes.. :-)
OK, it's probably really bad form to read 17 chapters and THEN make a comment, but I'm really enjoying this!
That's fine! As long as you're enjoying it!
Hooo cant stop to read this again !!! Its morning here and still sick (I lost my voice since three days now so I need to stay quiet and dont speak...) I loooooooooooooooove your fic!!!